Saturday, July 05, 2014

Disaster Risk by the Numbers: 1237 Disasters in the US Alone Since 1900

How do you visualize the risks and threats you are preparing for? One true and unbiased way is to look at researcher-tabulated data.

Since 1988, the WHO Collaborating Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED) has been maintaining an Emergency Events Database - EM-DAT.
EM-DAT was created with the initial support of the WHO and the Belgian government.
The main objective of the database is to serve the purposes of humanitarian action at national and international levels. It is an initiative aimed at rationalizing decision-making for disaster preparedness, as well as providing an objective base for vulnerability assessment and priority setting.
Eye-Opening Context

I strongly recommend you spend at least a few minutes perusing the EM-DAT site. I guarantee you will take away some eye-opening morsels for consideration.
At a minimum, I'd suggest going to this page:
On that search page, you can call up lists of types of disasters and their impact for any country or region in the world for periods of time beginning as far back as 1900.
A sample search I did was for the U.S., from 2000 to present, all types of disasters. The result was a list of 1237 disasters, to include drought, earthquake, fire, disease, floods, storms, industrial and transportation accidents, and more. Those disasters resulted in 58, 539 deaths and left over half a million people homeless. Over $777-billion in total damages were amassed.
Trend-wise, global data shows that disasters are progressively getting worse.
This is quite simply a stark reminder that disaster, when it strikes, is rarely going to be the type you might envision in your ongoing program of preparedness.
One lesson to take away is that we need to NOT focus on any one type of threat as being THE danger we want to be ready for. Another lesson is that wherever we are, risk is always there on the periphery of our comfortable and secure existence.

Thankfully, a good prep program is largely applicable across a wide spectrum of disaster risks.

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